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10. Little Children
This Sunday is celebrated as Father's Day in the US.
In 1911, Jane Addams wrote: "Poor Father has been left out in the cold. He doesn't get much recognition. It would be a good thing if he had a day that would mean recognition of him."
Sixty-one years later, President Richard Nixon signed a bill into law making Father's Day a national holiday.
Our concept of our father changes as we grow old. For example:
In his book, 'Finding Our Fathers: The Unfinished Business of Manhood,' Harvard University psychologist Samuel Osherson explored the meaning of fatherhood. He based it on his own personal and clinical experience, as well as on a study of 370 Harvard graduates over a twenty-year period.
Osherson concluded that if you don't come to terms with past relationships, especially with your parents, you may be condemned to reproduce them. We become in essence the parents we swore we would never be. He concluded that very few men report a close and secure relationship with their fathers.
Perhaps, due to the growth of one-parent families, the role of father is taking diminished role as compared to that of the mother. (Do you ever see a sign in ball field where someone raises a banner with the message, "Hi Dad'?) However, studies have shown that father has a great influence on their kids. For example, if a father attends church regularly, the kids have a greater chance of growing spiritually. Mother has less influence in this area, contrary to popular belief.
In this special issue of Malankara World Journal focused on Fatherhood, we take a look at the role of fathers. Who is an ideal father? The father of the prodigal son gives some clues in this regard. Bible provides several examples of fathers. We see the roles of Abraham and Jacob as strong role models; David and Moses as weak father models, who are occupied with their own work (career) and ignored their children.
Jesus provides a positive male role model we can emulate. He was compassionate, empathetic, nurturing, and at the same time strong, robust, and determined. He tenderly took children, who were considered of little intrinsic value, into His arms and treated them as persons of worth. And with strength of moral character He confronted the injustices of His day. In a patriarchal society, Jesus treated women with dignity. He was able to share His deepest hopes and dreams, fears and feelings, with His closest male friends. Jesus maintained a close relationship with his father. He spent personal time with his father during daily prayers. He spoke of His heavenly Father in the most intimate of terms, "Abba." Jesus, the Son of God, was in all ways like His tender and tough Father. Like Father, like Son.
This week's cover photo is from the Foundation Stone-Laying Ceremony of the proposed Super-Specialty Cancer Hospital of our church. If you recall, I wrote about the story of how Very Reverend Fr. Dr. Geevarghese Kunnath, MD Corepiscopa dreamed of this project. In this issue, we provide excerpts from the speech given by achen that tells the whole story. He also talks about his vision for this project. When completed as visualized, this will be an institution that we all can be proud of. It is also another example of how God uses ordinary persons (everyday 'Joe' as Geevarghese achen calls himself) to accomplish extraordinary things. Achen talks about his dual role as a medical healer who is board certified in more than one specialty and spiritual healer as a cor episcopa in our church influenced the direction of his work. I had the privilege of knowing achen closely; he talked of his dreams, visions, fears, and frustrations. I sincerely hope that we will have more Geevarghese achens who are dedicated to the service of our church. He is the father we can emulate.
Dr. Jacob Mathew
This Sunday in Church
Third Sunday after Pentecost (June 17)
Before Holy Qurbana
This Week's Features
|Inspiration for Today|
"Those who live in the shelter of the
Special: Laying the Foundation for a Dream
[Editor's Note: This is excerpted from a speech by Very Reverend Father Dr. Kunnathu P. Geevarghese Cor Episcopa MD on April 17, 2012, on the occasion of the foundation stone laying ceremony of St. Gregorios Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Institute, a super specialty hospital planned at Chelad Kerala, India. Geevarghese achen is a member of the Malankara World Board. The full text of achen's speech can be found in Malankara World with photos of the foundation stone laying ceremony. This project is an excellent example of God picking ordinary people to produce extraordinary outcome.]
Let us all pray.
Oh Heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, who art in all places and fillest all things; Treasury of good things and Giver of life: Come and dwell in us and cleanse us from every stain and save our souls, O gracious Lord.
Your Beatitude - our Bava, Your Graces, Honorable minister of our state, Honorable members of the legislative assembly, Honorable members of the Panchayath, Members of the Clergy, Other specially invited guests, Members of my family, friends, neighbors, and My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
... My profession is a two-fold ministry, both in the science and art of healing and it is something which I enjoy very much indeed. Through the practice of the art of healing, I believe I accomplish the great Christian mission of making man's love of God equal to His love of man, and when one understands that God created man in His own image and likeness, one should be able to love God at least as much as he loves man.
Without beating around the bush or blowing my own trumpet, I shall now tell you the long story about how an ordinary Joe like me ended up dreaming and daring to plan and build a world class, second to none in the world, type of cancer care hospital and medical college.
The story has never been told, not even to my own dear wife, for the simple reason that nobody would believe it. But the truth has to be told at least once and here it is. I had a sister, my Chechi, in whose lap I spent the first few months of my life as a first grader at the nearby school here in Pindimana. I was her dearest brother and she was my Chechi, whom I loved probably more than my mother. She unfortunately is not here to listen to her brother today. Her husband, Cherathotathil Paulose and their children are here. My Chechi passed away in the prime of her life when life was just getting better for her. She died of acute myeloid leukemia and that type of blood cancer had no real suitable treatment for her then. We could not do much for her then except to take her to the best hospital and pray for her and care for her; but she is in a safe place now. I am very sure she is watching us.
Ever since this event of my sister passing away, I started having a very unusual and difficult experience in my life. Whenever I pray, especially when I pray for the departed among us which is often in our altar of worship, and especially when I read the names of those departed, I see the live image of my sister in front of me looking at her brother, as if she is asking me something, the same thing every day, day after day, time after time. Sometimes this interaction becomes so intense that, as a priest, I have even tried to avoid celebrating the memorial service if I have another priest available to do it for me.
Over the years I interpreted my sister's appearance in front of me as if she was requesting me and asking me "my little brother, won't you do something that others not to have this same fate as I have had? I have accepted mine since it was ruled in for me." I have been praying to God daily so that he will direct me in some way to find an answer to this pressing problem which has become very personal to me and, of course, the problem of cancer becoming another growing worldwide health issue waiting for a solution in the short and long term.
With things going this way and mind in turbulence and my nights becoming days due to insomnia, one night suddenly I woke up in a cold sweat, as if from a nightmare shouting to myself something like this, "You know the answer to your quest. You know it. Start a hospital to care for cancer," or something like that. All of these years my being a silly weak man who thought I had failed myself, though praying to God, asking him to grant me special powers to heal the sick and the ones who were incurable, this thought never occurred to me that I could do something like that in my dream or was it indeed a nightmare? It is this quest of mine that led me to this effort of building a hospital for treatment and research in cancer.
I got to the stage where I could start building the foundation after getting permits, etc., after preparing the land, I was pondering the next step when the economic tsunami which hit North American and Europe slowed me down and my dear wife, who was doubting whether she would end up being in the soup line in one of the soup kitchens. But then God Almighty works his miracles in many, many ways. I asked some of my friends and one of my family members who told me that he would partner with me if I change my mind from the idea of a cancer care center to a medical college. That required some further thought and I had to keep my sister still in my mind.
At this juncture one night past midnight the telephone rang and as soon as I woke up from my sleep, to my surprise, I knew it was the Bava (HB) on the other end of the line, asking me whether I would pray and think about helping the Church in its quest to start a medical college. Bava (HB) gave me the message and told me to think about it and told me that he would call again. I could not, at that moment, think and after getting up and pacing the floor for a while and praying for a while I thought that I still had to think about my sister and I was focused on cancer care, but then I continued to mull the matter in my mind and pray about it. I knew Bava (HB) would call and I needed to make up my mind.
My thoughts went this way. I had my world set in the line of the cancer care and to help many and satisfy the preoccupation I had about myself and my own sister. The hierarch of our Church, on the other hand, asked me to help in its efforts to help many more. My ministry is one of healing and I have some limited resources I had set apart for that. I thought my efforts to begin with had already begun. It is costly and noble and I need all the help I can get. Bava's efforts regarding the medical school are bigger, greater and equally noble and needing even more help than my own. So, why not join the two noble causes together? The resulting project would be better and bigger and would cover many, many souls. It looked like the samgamam (joining or unity) of the Ganga and the Yamuna or the confluence between the Euphrates and the Tigris. All would be well and, with God's help, nothing would be impossible. My mind was set, my prayers were answered and I was ready to give the answer to Bava (HB) in the positive.
I sent a message to Bava (HB) on August 8, 2011, about my decision and subsequently I met with him in person on Monday, October 17, 2011, at 7 p.m. in his study. I had a seven page memorandum detailing my vision on the project with the title "Project, medical education/proposal for a school of the future". We talked for nearly two hours. Bava (HB) scanned through the memo, listened intensely without blinking an eye in response to my monotonous presentation in Manglish regarding my vision, my hope, my anxieties and my unshakable faith in the Divine help and in our ability to accomplish things, even Herculean tasks, with God's help. I was amazed at Bava's inexhaustible ability to listen and grasp the material I presented to him. In the end I got the nod that I did not do such a bad job. I thought the tough business of healthcare, its delivery and the education aspects of the healthcare, etc., impressed Bava (HB) and he was more than ready to take the challenge, as if he had wanted another challenge. We had three more meetings that week and we agreed, in principle, that we go ahead with the medical college project as a joint venture between the Geevarghese family and the umbrella of the Church under the leadership of Bava (HB).
The initial step would be to start the cancer hospital since it was already shovel ready and the land had been prepared for the foundation to be dug. It is also my understanding from Bava that I and my family will play a continuing role in the project, not only as founders and benefactors, but also in the management in a responsible and equitable way. I am making this statement because that seems to be the only question which I am being asked. It is a project of the Church and the patron shall be the Bava as it should be. My wife and I hope to play a significant and decisive role in its implementation in the future. We have no profit motivation in this matter whatsoever. We do not plan to make any money for our personal needs in this matter. If managed well, this institution has the potential to be second to none in this world. It is my dream, the Bava's dream and with your help and the help of every one of you and all those who listen and see, our dreams can be fulfilled and the hope of many and the expectations of all for the future for our land and its people would be bright.
I shall close with a bird's eye view of the scope of this project. The project does include all things from A to Z in a medical college or a medical school and then some more; newer and novel ideas suitable for our land. It will include a state of the art or world class, second to none, cancer care hospital and institute, for diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation and research in the management of cancer. We shall not forget Cancer Prevention here. It will include a medical college or medical school with basic graduate degree and postgraduate degrees and doctorate degrees in specialty courses and super specialty levels. It will include a school of nursing with bachelor's, graduate and postgraduate degrees. It will also include allied health courses in pharmacy, respiratory therapy, radiation technology, radiology technology, laboratory technology, hospital and health sanitation, diet and food management, medical equipment technology, home health and personal health assistance programs. It will include a medical school building and administrative building. It will include housing (dorms). It would include a department of human resources and services and, of course, it will include all specialties in medical school including public health, Pediatrics and Maternal and fetal Medicine.
It would be superfluous if I bore you to death with all the other details which I presented to Bava (HB) in my detailed memorandum. Finally, in the most optimistic tone, the project, as envisaged, is huge in its magnitude. Its potential and scope are next to infinite and it is doable. We have the leadership of our beloved Bava. We expect the cooperation, contribution of the people in this area and in this land and beyond our borders, irrespective of caste, creed, religious persuasion or other personal attributes. I promise my best efforts and the remaining part of my life toward this project and whatever financial resources I can contribute.
Before I conclude this long talk, I would be delinquent if I did not thank the people who enabled me to be here. I thank His Beatitude for giving me the privilege to speak here and speak in the language which I have some proficiency in speaking. ....
Thank you for listening. May God bless us all.
by Paul Coughlin
A learning season is upon us, and it's worth our time to heed its teaching.
This lesson is the difference between how we handle Mother's Day compared with Father's Day in church. If it's like in years past, it won't be pretty.
On Mother's Day, we will extol the value and benefit of motherhood, which is great. But in some churches, this will be done by degrading Christian husbands, which is not great. "Our pastor makes us husbands get on our knees on Mother's Day and beg for forgiveness. I don't want to do it again this year," one reader tells me. Another writes, "Our minister makes husbands write on paper all the things we've done wrong. Then we're suppose to give it to our wives and pledge that we won't do them anymore."
Most preachers will not be this heavy-handed. They will wait till Father's Day to tell men how to be better fathers. Of course there's nothing wrong with this message when taken as an isolated event. But when compared with Mother's Day, we'll discover that for some reason many ministers believe that fathers need correction on Father's Day (and Mother's Day too!) but women don't. Why this double-standard?
Because much of the church sees men as a problem to be fixed when compared to women, not a gender to be appreciated. There's prejudice and bigotry against a man's nature in too many churches, Christian publishing, and on Christian radio (I was a program director of a Christian radio station--I was part of the problem too), all of which have been beating men up for decades.
For example, if there is a problem with their marriage, Christian men have been told by these sources that it is automatically their fault. Dr. James Dobson is one of a few authors brave enough to confront this false message. He writes in 'Love Must Be Tough' that men are saddled with the unrealistic expectation that "any sadness or depression that a woman might encounter is her husband's fault. At least he has the power to eradicate it if he cares enough. In other words, many American women come into marriage with unrealistically romantic expectations which are certain to be dashed. Not only does this orientation set up a bride for disappointment and agitation in the future, it also places enormous pressure on her husband to deliver the impossible...Marital conflict always involves an interaction between two imperfect human beings who share the responsibility to one degree or another." Sadly, Dobson's common sense is drowned out by other and more shrill voices.
I was told as an impressionable and young Christian man in church that I was "irresponsible, thoughtless, and selfish," when compared to women, who are innately more moral and spiritual. I don't know everything about the Bible. But I do know two profound truths: It says a lot about morality and spirituality. Nowhere does it state that women have a corner on both when compared to men. Instead, it tells us that both genders are uniquely and equally made in the image of God. It tells us that both are equally sinful and in need of redemption. There is no privileged gender in God's eyes.
Still, this rose-scented inequality will spread across our country this weekend, creating unintended consequences. Many will hear about the dark side of fatherhood in America, but few, if any, will hear about motherhood's dark side. How a child is more likely to be physically abused and killed by his mother, not his father. The statistics vary from 65% to more than 80%, which includes adjustments for single mothers. How wives over 40 and with children file for divorce more than husbands (around 66%), and their reason has little if anything to do with abuse or infidelity. How wives are more prone to begin a conversation more harshly than husbands. These aren't exactly family values. Listing these problematic facts of life will likely cause more shock than the facts themselves.
I could create an equally unflattering portrait of wayward fathering, which would include damning facts about fatherlessness and incarceration. But pointing out the ugly in each gender isn't the point of this article. The goal is to explode the myth of gender superiority, create a more biblically sound perspective, and implore today's ministers and lay people to treat each gender with respect and dignity during this important season by pointing out their unique value, which will foster genuine domestic harmony, among other blessings.
Here are some facts about the importance and value of fatherhood. None is derogatory toward mothers but instead points out the complimentary nature of mothers and fathers.
1. Sociologist Brad Wilcox from the University of Virginia found that conservative evangelical fathers rank higher than other men in the United States in most every category. "Conservative evangelical fathers spend more time with their children, hug and praise them more, are less likely to yell at them, and commit the lowest levels of domestic violence than any other group in America," he writes in 'Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands.'
2. These fathers are "also the most active, emotionally engaged husbands and fathers in America" whose wives report the highest levels of "happiness, love and affection." These superior fathers and husbands are also more likely to "discipline their children, monitor their viewing habits, and know where they are at any given time." This is why Wilcox refers to them as "soft patriarchs." They "balance their traditional, authority-minded approach to parenting with a large measure of involvement and affection."
3. Fathers excel when it comes to discipline, play, and challenging their children to embrace life's challenges. They are more likely to partake in physical play with children, which is more important than many realize. Play "promotes social skills, intellectual development, and a sense of self-control." The playful side to fathers teaches their children how to regulate their feelings and behavior as they interact with others. Children who roughhouse with fathers usually learn quickly that biting, kicking and other forms of physical violence are not acceptable.
4. Fathers are more likely than mothers to encourage their children to take up difficult tasks, to seek out fresh experiences, and to endure pain and hardship without yielding. Explains Wilcox, "The bottom line is that fathers excel in teaching their children the virtues of fortitude, temperance, and prudence for life outside their family."
5. Writes sociologist David Popenoe: "While mothers provide an important flexibility and sympathy in their discipline, fathers provide ultimate predictability and consistency. Both dimensions are critical for an efficient, balanced, and humane child-rearing regime."
6. The publication 'Child Development' found that children of parents who engaged in sex-typical behavior, where the mother was more responsive/nurturing and the father was more challenging/firm, were more competent overall than children whose parents did not engage in sex-typical behavior.
7. The amount of time fathers devote to child rearing increased 170 percent between 1965 and 1998.
8. The largest factor in predicting whether a child will graduate from high school, attend college, avoid crime or drugs, and get pregnant before 18 is the presence of a father in the child's life.
9. According to a recent report by the Department of Health and Human Services, "Fathers play a unique role in fostering the well-being of their children, not only through providership, protection and guidance, but also through the way that they nurture the next generation." But there is a huge catch. "A father's involvement with his children...is powerfully contingent on the mother's attitude" toward him. Research consistently shows that the father-child relationship depends more on the quality of the parents' relationship than does the mother-child relationship. See the problem? If men continue to be denigrated from the pulpit during Mother's Day or Father's Day, wives will be encouraged to have a low view of them. This low view may well drive a wedge between a father and his children, darkening their future.
10. This same report from the Department of Health and Human Services states: "Girls with active dads demonstrate higher levels of mathematical competence, and boys with more nurturing fathers display higher levels of verbal acumen. It is worth noting, of course, that girls tend to struggle more with math and boys tend to struggle more with language. Having an active, emotionally invested father appears to help children overcome the intellectual weaknesses typically associated with their sex."
11. Fathers are more likely to foster independent, exploratory behavior on the part of their children, compared to mothers.
12. Children raised by engaged fathers are more comfortable exploring the world around them.
13. A playful, challenging, and nurturing approach to fatherhood is associated with more self-control and pro-social behavior among children throughout the course of their lives.
14. One study of seventh graders found that boys who had close relationships with their fathers were more likely to control their feelings and impulses, to obey rules at school and home, and to make good moral judgment.
15. This same study found that boys with involved fathers had fewer school behavior problems and that girls had more self-esteem.
16. Boys and girls who are exposed to the nurture of a father, and who see a father being nurturing to their mother and other adults, are much less likely to associate masculinity with predatory sexual behavior and hyper-aggressiveness.
17. Fathers help their children, especially their daughters, develop the self-control and the sense of self-worth that protects them from premature sexual intercourse and teenage pregnancy.
About the Author:
Paul Coughlin is the author of 'No More Christian Nice Guy', and 'No More Jellyfish, Chickens or Wimps: Raising Secure, Assertive Kids in a Tough World.' He is the co-author along with his wife Sandy of 'Married But Not Engaged.' He's also a founding member of GodMen (www.godmen.com).
by Cooper P Abrams III
Scripture: Genesis 35:1-7
In 1889, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote the compelling science fiction thriller The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It is about a doctor who invented a potion that would change him from a respectable, reserved professional man into a deranged psychopath.
The Bible tells us of another man who lived 2800 years ago who had a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde kind of existence. Jacob was a man with two natures. He was a man that appeared at times to be at war with himself. But he is also a man with whom other men can identify. On this Father's Day, we will look at the checkered life of Jacob. We will frankly face his failings. But we will also see the other side of his life. The Bible clearly tells of his shortcomings but also of the victories he enjoyed. As we consider his life we will do so in the following categories. We will consider:
I. WHAT HE DID WRONG.
A. He lived a life of deception.
1. He was a schemer and a trickster and was selfish from the day of his birth. Jacob was born the second son of Isaac and Rebekah. He had a twin brother named Esau.
2. The name "Jacob" literally means "he that grasps the heel." When used figuratively the name means "deceiver."
3. As the boys grew, Jacob lived up to his name.
a. He refused to give his starving brother food until he got something in return (Genesis 25:29-33).
b. He then tricked his old blind father (Genesis 27:6-29) into giving him Esau's birthright, the right of the oldest son to become leader of the family when the father became too old.
c. As a result, Jacob had to run for his life and spent the next 20 years in hiding with his uncle. Uncle Laban turned the tables on Jacob and tricked him into marrying the unwanted sister of his fiancť.
B. He was a poor husband.
1. He married Leah first because of Laban's deception and then married Rachel. In a day when plural marriages were common, Jacob had equal responsibility to both women. But he neglected Leah. He perhaps thought he had good reasons. See if these reasons sound familiar:
a. She was not the woman he thought he married. He thought he was marrying her sister. He was startled after their wedding night to look at her face and see that she was not who he thought she was (Genesis 29:25). A contemporary Jacob would have said, "Wow, have you changed!"
The greatest task we have on earth is to serve others and that service begins at home with our wives and families.
b. Jacob thought his right to happiness was greater than his commitment to marriage. He didn't divorce Leah, but he treated her as though she was not his wife.
C. Jacob played favorites with his children.
He lavished his attention on some of them and neglected others. As a result his mistakes were mirrored in the lives of his children. His sons were wild, unruly and unbelievably cruel.
His responsibility was to set the example for them and their families, but he failed miserably and that propagated his mistakes to his children and their families. Our sins are not isolated to us alone, but they effect all around us. Further generations suffer for the sins of their ancestors. The unfaithfulness of a father will be surely reflected in his children. The problem is some fathers may be only marginally faithful to the Lord, and they children will not be faithful at all. The unfaithful father taught his children that serving and being faithful to the Lord is not important for them.
On the other hand, the opposite is true also. A faithful father sets an example that inspires his children to love the Lord as he does. They learn what a family should be from their parents and the example they see. What a blessing to see a family....a true family...a Christian, love loving and honoring family. What a blessing to see their children love the Lord too and serve Him. A faithful father can do no greater thing on earth than to set a proper example before his children....and the example and blessing will extend into many future generations.
II. WHAT HE DID RIGHT.
We wouldn't have an accurate picture of Jacob if we looked only at his mistakes.
A. He had a desire to serve the lord.
1. In the final analysis, we realize that God chose Jacob. He didn't seem like the ideal choice. He was full of faults. Yes, there was some good in him, but there was so much bad. Yet, God had great plans for him.
2. Having stolen his brother's blessing, Jacob ran for his life. He ran toward Haran. For the first time in his life he was alone and away from the shelter of his home. Lonely and dejected, Jacob stopped in Bethel. In the bleak, rocky countryside, he bedded down for the night and took a stone for a pillow.
3. During the night, he had a dream of a ladder that reached from the earth to the very gates of heaven. You see God is reaching out to the wayward to bring them into fellowship with Him. He sees in us what He can make us.
a. He saw angels going up and coming down the ladder. God spoke to him in his dream and assured Jacob that he was not alone.
b. Genesis 28:16 says, "And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not."
c. Genesis 28:20-21 says, "Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God."
d. Jacob had made a lot of mistakes but deep inside he knew who made him and he knew that he owed his life and his allegiance to the Lord. How important it is for a man to realize that he is the special creation of Almighty God and that God has a purpose and plan for his life.
A man alone is a sorry creature. A man who does not accept he is responsible to God and that His loving creator wants the very best for him...is a miserable man. He is lost from his purpose and can never be satisfied, nor experience true life and the peace and joy of living...until he submits in belief himself to His God and Creator.
4. Jacob faithfully worked for Uncle Laban for 20 years even when Laban tried to trick him (Genesis 31:38). But even in the years when God was increasing his herds and flocks, Jacob failed to see that God was the reason for his prosperity rather than his own cleverness.
Jacob is the example of a lot of men. They know what is right. They know of God, but they just will not submit themselves to Him. They let themselves be easily distracted. They are too busy with seeking pleasure, money, fun, and living in the world than to serve the Lord. They are many a terrible mistake....trading things that are worthless for the eternal blessings of God.
5. Jacob finally broke with Laban and traveled toward the south. Once again, God reached out to him. Angels met him there and told him that Esau was coming to meet him with an army of 400 men (Genesis 32:6). That night, Jacob wrestled with an angel. He wanted God to touch his life and change him from the deceitful trickster he had always been to a man that God could use in a mighty way. The angel asked him his name and he told him it was "Jacob." He was saying, "My name is 'cheat and deceiver. I am by nature a cheater, but I want to be different.' And the angel of the Lord said that from that day on, his name would be changed to 'Israel: a prince with God' (Genesis 32:28).
What a joy it is to get one's heart right with God. What a blessing to see the reality of life itself and to accept the grace and mercy of a loving and caring Savior!!!
B. He recommitted himself to the Lord and led his family to the Lord.
1. After seeing highs and lows in the lives of his children Jacob returned to Bethel and to the commitment he made there years earlier. Going back to Bethel was a time of renewal for Jacob.
2. God demanded a high price for the sin in his life in terms of his own hardships and the problems he saw in children's lives. With his recommitment to the Lord, the problems of his life did not disappear, but he finally became the father he should have been all along.
3. He gave the order that all of the idols of the past be buried. You see Jacob knew that was what he would have to do if he submitted himself to the Lord. For all those years he could not give up the idols that pleased him. They were too dear to him, but now he saw the truth and he wanted God's blessing on himself and his family. He made the decision that he and his family would serve the Lord God.
C. He prepared his children for his death.
1. In Gen. 49, He gave them his blessing and talked to them about the future. It was a future without him. But with all of his mistakes in life, he succeeded in raising sons that became the foundation of the nation of Israel. He knew that he was dying and he took his last words to give guidance and direction to his children.
Fathers, we are not as invincible as we like for people to think. Our children will someday face life without us. How will they live then? Where will they turn when they make decisions? If death takes us out of the picture before our children are off on their own, will we have given them the raw materials from which they can continue to build their lives?
1. One of our duties as parents is to work ourselves out of a job. We look forward with mixed emotions to the day when they are mature and off on their own. We have the responsibility to:
(1) Teach them to live independent, Christ honoring lives
(2) Lead them to faith in Christ
(3) Continue to love and encourage them throughout their lives
In the 20th century we still can't get away from the directives God's Word gives
2. Are you like Jacob? You may be more like Jacob than you want to admit. May we fathers privately admit today our failures a husband and a father.
The responsibility goes on also to the grandparents. We can have a great influence on our grandchildren and help our sons and daughters raise them.
3. You may look at the mistakes of the past and conclude that you have done such damage to the important relationships in your life that there is nothing you can do to rectify your mistakes.
4. But for every Jacob listening to me, remember that God is forgiving and seeks to be your strength and Guide. Remember that God has given you your family and if you will look to Him, He will give you wisdom to be the husband and father you need to be.
5. In the NT we read the post script of Jacob's life.
Hebrews 11:21 says, "By faith Jacob, when he was a dying... worshipped the Lord."
6. For every person listening, both male and female, young and old, married and unmarried, we can all make the trip back to Bethel that Jacob made. We can go back and repair the relationship with God that may have long been neglected.
by Dr. Arnold Lastinger
Today is Father's Day. The greatest need in our society today is for fathers who will rise up and assume their God-given role of responsibility in the family. Our text gives basic responsibilities for manhood; but when a man becomes a father, those responsibilities are expanded. Let's look:
I. A godly father will love God:
A. Matthew 6:33 "Seek ye first, the kingdom of GodÖ"
B. The basis upon which happiness is built . . .
C. Priorities of relationship
D. If you do not have a right relationship with God, it is futile to think you can relate properly to others.
E. Isaiah 57:21 "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."
F. If you are running from God you will never have peace.
G. Settle that matter first of all.
II. A godly father will love his wife:
A. Ephesians 5:25-33 (READ) "Husbands, love your wivesÖ"
B. Most husbands think "love" is a 3-letter word. . . SEX!
C. While that certainly is a part of love, it is not all. . .
D. Real love seeks to meet all the needs of another person.
E. See I Corinthians 13 for a definition of real love.
F. Romantic actions are not an abandonment of your manliness.
G. Open the car door, pull out her chair at dinner, hold her hand cuddle while watching TV, help make the beds, rinse out the tub when you're finished, the list is endless
H. Your sons are learning from you how to treat their wives.
III. A godly father will love his children:
A. Love is more than provision for material things
B. Don't miss your children's childhood; there is no second chance at childhood.
C. When discipline is required, do it in love: Colossians 3:21
D. Children interpret time spent with them as love.
E. Forget "quality time" vs. "quantity time"
IV. A godly father will be a man of integrity:
A. Text: ". . . to do justly . . . walk uprightly. . ."
B. "Integrity" has become almost a forgotten word.
C. The highest elected office in our land is tainted with the smell of corruption and the president himself has a notorious reputation as a liar.
D. A member of the president's cabinet commits suicide rather than face scrutiny for his financial dealings.
E. Whitewater used to mean a good place to go canoeing instead of a political sewer.
F. We are called to rise above that and be men of integrity.
G. Should permeate every area of our lives.
H. We are called to be men of integrity
V. A godly father is a role model of God:
A. The image of a father nowadays is not always a good one.
B. Over half the children in America grow up without a father in the home.
C. Often abandoned by their father or the father is maligned
D. Sexual abuse by the father is on the rise.
E. Then, we tell children that God is their Heavenly Father!
F. Small wonder that they are afraid of Him. God help us!
G. Dad, you are shaping your child's concept of his/her Heavenly Father. They see him as you.
VI. Will you be a godly fatherÖ?
Source: From the personal sermon notes collection of Dr. Arnold Lastinger.
by John A. Huffman, Jr.
Scripture: Luke 15:11-32
We are a society searching for a model father.
Is there any model (for fatherhood)? The answer is yes .... and no. There is no such thing as a perfect human father. Some do it better than others, and, as a result, this comes easier for them. None of us is perfect. I try hard to be a good father, and I fail. But I am not giving up. As a Christian, I know I can't do it perfectly. But I do have a model.
One day Jesus told a story that is probably the most appreciated story in the entire Bible. It has come to be known as the "Parable of the Prodigal Son." We find it recorded in Luke 15:11-32.
I have, on various occasions, used this story as a preaching text, coming at it from various perspectives. I've talked about the Prodigal Son, noting the tendency in some of us to rebel and run away from God's love, entering into a far country, wasting the tremendous inheritance the Lord has given to us in disregard of the price we are paying and the heart of God which is breaking on our behalf. This story, viewed from this perspective, tells us how we can come back to the Lord, our resources exhausted, finding Him loving and waiting for us. It's never too late to come home.
I've preached on this text from the perspective of the elder brother, referring to this as Christ's message to mildewed saints. Isn't it easy to be like this cold, calculating, work-ethic, self-righteous character who did things the way they were supposed to be done, scornful of his younger brother's profligacy, living with a "good-riddance to bad-rubbish" attitude? How stunned he was when the young prodigal returned home only to get a banquet prepared in his honor. How resentful you and I can be, when we've tried to do everything right, when we discover that God embraces, in even deathbed conversions, persons who have wasted their lives. The elder brother puts a mirror up to me, showing me how maybe my motivation for good works wasn't out of love for God and desire to be in relationship with Him but out of pride, arrogance, and self protection.
I've preached about this parable from the perspective of the "waiting father." He stands as a parabolic representation of God. I tried to probe the divine-human interaction of the way in which God deals with you and me in our wild acts of rebellion and in our cold, cynical, calculated self-righteousness. God has a word for both the prodigal and the elder brother. It's an important word in which He calls us both back to ourselves and what it is to be in relationship with Him.
However, during the last few weeks, I have come to this parable from an entirely different perspective. I have been looking all over the place for something more than theory about what it is to be a model father. Suddenly it dawned upon me that it is possible to revisit this parable and see in it the ideal representation of what it is to be a model father. Here we have the father, of whom Jesus tells this story, interacting with his sons in a way which gives insight to you and me of how to be model fathers and, in a broader sense, model parents.
I. The model father teaches the truth from infancy up.
Jesus did not tell this story in a vacuum. He was telling it to Jews, Jews who knew the Old Testament Scriptures, men and women who were familiar with the Mosaic Law. Basic to this great heritage is the parental responsibility to expose one's children to the teachings of the Scriptures, both in precept and in action. Just before entering the Promised Land, Moses reminds the people of Israel:
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates" (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
Discipline is essential to this teaching. Moses incorporates these words into his address. "Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you" (Deuteronomy 8:5). And he warns not only fathers but mothers to live themselves under the authority of God's teachings.
As we live under His authority, what we teach our children about the ways of God takes on more existential relevance to them. If I teach them one mode of conduct and live under a different mode myself, they will see the hypocrisy of it all. I must live under the teaching and the discipline of God, even as I endeavor to faithfully teach and discipline my children.
II. The model father has respect for individual autonomy.
What would be your reaction if one of your children came to you, thumbing his nose at you, demanding that you give him total freedom and his fair share to finance his rebellion? That's a tough one, isn't it?
It was not unusual for a Jewish father to distribute his estate before he died if he wished to retire from the actual management of his business affairs. Under the law, there was a clear delineation of his financial responsibilities. The older son must get two-thirds and the younger son one-third. But there is a certain demanding attitude, is there not, on the part of this younger son? He is saying, "Life is too short for me to wait for you to die or to retire. I am going to get it anyway. Give it to me now. I'm bored. I'm hemmed in. I want out!"
The father could have said no. He could have tried to blackmail him, telling him how much more he would have in the long run if he stayed around home. He could have played the comparison game, saying, "Why aren't you a good son like your older brother? What are you trying to do, break your mother's heart?" You know those little games we play!
No, this father was prepared to stand by the teachings and the humble modelings that he and his wife had shared from the infancy of these two boys. He was willing to evaluate each one of them for who they were as individuals. He knew their strengths and weaknesses. He was prepared to let this young man be an adult.
After all, he himself was human. He had had a father who had raised him. He had his own individual sibling rivalries with his brothers and sisters. He knew the feeling of being compared. He knew what it was to want to be his own person. And he knew what it was to rebel.
We don't know the nature of his rebellion. We don't know much about his past. Perhaps he at one time had been a prodigal. Perhaps he at one time had been the elder brother or some interesting blend of both of these personality types. He, too, had his secret sins as well as his more obvious shortcomings.
He wasn't perfect. He knew that God, in His creative design, had not made human persons robots, automatons, who function as mechanical men and women. To be created human was to have freedom to obey or to disobey. This model father had respect for the individual autonomy of each of his sons. So, without preaching a doomsday sermon, he divided his estate. He gave his son what he wanted, and he bid him farewell.
III. The model father won't stand in the way of consequences.
Apparently he had money, and he had servants. He could have played a manipulative game. He could have assigned one of his servants to shadow the rebellious kid, carrying various disguises, going wherever he went, making certain he had no idea he was there, keeping an eye on him and then reporting back what was going on, letting him know if things went well or if things went poorly.
He could have kept track of his associations, so that he wouldn't squander the fortune, thinking, "I've worked hard for all this money, and no son of mine is entitled to waste it." He could have had little anonymous reminders put in his way if he began to get in trouble, "Your father wouldn't like this, would he?" If things got real bad, he could have had him brought home, thinking, "His mother and I could never live with ourselves if we knew our son was hanging out with prostitutes or becoming an alcoholic or catching a venereal disease or marrying outside of our faith." At the first sting of homesickness, he could have had him reminded of his mother's hot chicken soup and the fact that there is always plenty of work here at home.
No, the model father won't stand in the way of consequences. He is not in the business of premature rescue. As much as his heart is breaking, and he knows that there is trouble ahead, he lets go.
I ask you and I ask myself: Is this the kind of father, is this the kind of mother we are? Are we willing to faithfully teach and model? Do we respect the autonomy of our children as they come of age? Are we willing to let them walk away from us, no longer nurtured and controlled by us, but free to live in a tough, hard world unprotected?
The reality is we haven't got much choice. If we don't let them go, they are going to rebel anyway, aren't they? How much better to take the initiative and say, "Hey, this is your life. I've done the best I can. It hasn't been that good at some points. You know my weaknesses and my mistakes. Forgive me for them. It's your life. You know what I believe. I am willing to cut the strings of control. You are free to be who you choose to be, to do what you choose to do, and live with the consequences. You know I love you, and I always will. I may not have always handled you correctly, and I will make my mistakes in the future. But I am your dad."
With a big hug and perhaps a few tears, we are prepared to send them off to seek their own fortune, to face whatever may be the consequences-positive, negative, or in between.
IV. The model father has a love that refuses to give up.
Most of us have a breaking point. We can put up with just so much nonsense. We are patient up to a point. We have hope up to a point. We are willing to be tolerant up to a point.
The fact is that our children have the God-given freedom to go their own ways and never come back. We cannot force them to show us honor. At the same time, God pity the son or daughter who has a parent who has given up on them. Very few experiences could be more devastating than to be disowned by one's parent.
We are called to faithfulness, the same faithfulness that is modeled by the father in this story. Just imagine how the plot would change if the father took the attitude of, "Okay, this is the way my son wants to have it. I'll go along with it. I think it's dumb. He's making a terrible mistake. He is entitled to do it. That's it. But he better never come back here again. I'm done with that ungrateful kid."
Instead we see the father faithfully carrying out his ongoing responsibilities. He is not chasing after the prodigal. But he is daily aware of his breaking heart.
It's important for us to learn how to live with a broken heart. Jesus said, "In this world, you will have trouble. Take courage, I have overcome the world." There is a realistic candor in the biblical teachings. We are alerted to the reality of life. None of us is free from trouble. We are called to continue doing what God has called us to do, while at the same time, we are privileged to scan the horizon just hoping for that reunion with the rebel.
We may have caused some of the rebellion. If so, we need to make our overtures. Perhaps a phone call or a letter that says, "I'm sorry. Forgive me for what I said. I love you. I want a restored relationship with you." I am talking about an initiative that frees the young person to accept it or not accept it. Others have already communicated that love and vulnerability. For you, it's just a matter of going on and fulfilling the responsibilities which you assumed.
Somehow, I am never able to rid myself of the picture of that father who, as he worked his field, was constantly scanning the horizon. Jesus alerts us of that fact. For He says, "But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion and ran and embraced him and kissed him" (Luke 15:20). His was a love that refused to give up.
V. The model father is forgiving.
What would your reaction be if your child did to you what the prodigal did to his father? Being a preacher, I have a sneaking suspicion that I would probably have written a sermon titled, "I Told You So!" I would probably be prepared to deliver this on a moment's notice.
The father in Jesus' story avoids a vindictive attitude. Instead, love explodes within him. He has compassion. He runs, embraces his son, kisses him.
The son gives the speech he has carefully prepared, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son" (Luke 15:18). The father doesn't linger even a minute over the son's acknowledged sinfulness and unworthiness. He is not interested in saying, "I told you so!" Instead, he is overwhelmed with a joy that floods through his system. He can do nothing but rejoice.
VI. The model father is a celebrative person.
He doesn't even give his son a chance to ask to be a servant. He calls for the best robe. In the Hebrew tradition, that robe stands for honor. He calls for a ring. The ring stands for authority. If a man gave another his signet ring, it was the same as giving him power of attorney. He calls for shoes. The shoes stand for a son as opposed to a slave. The children of the family wore shoes. Often the slaves didn't. The slaves dream, in the black spiritual, of a time when, "All God's chillun got shoes." Shoes were the sign of freedom. He calls for a banquet, a feast to make merry, "for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found" (Luke 15:24).
Are you a celebrative person? I need to work more at this. I am inclined to approach things with that Calvinistic work-ethic. I am not certain that I could have been quite as spontaneous and exuberant as was this model father. I think that I would have to wait to have the party until I had checked into his recidivistic rate. I would want to know whether or not he had really come clean or if he would turn right around and break my heart again. I think I would put the party off for a few months.
I'd give him a job. I'd try to measure how good a job he was doing. After all, it wouldn't be fair to his older brother, my son who had been so faithful, to have this big extravaganza. I guess what I am saying is that I don't like some things I see in myself when I compare myself to this model father. I have to learn. I have to grow. I have to develop, as I take a close look at this biblical example.
VII. The model father is willing to live with ambiguity.
We don't know the end of the story. We do know that the other son got angry. The father had to live with that anger. The other son viewed this as unfair. He wasn't the least bit interested in being part of the celebration.
Jesus had a very interesting way of bringing this story to a conclusion. It ends with the father's response to the elder brother's sneering accusation that there had never been a party for him but that this no-good brother who had devoured the father's hard-earned money with harlots ends up getting the fatted calf killed in his honor.
What's the father's response? He acknowledges the faithfulness of the older brother. He makes no demands for performance on the younger brother. Life goes on.
None of us knows the future, do we? Being a father, being a mother has no sealed and signed guarantees. We are called to live with the ambiguity which is built into relationships. The model father accepts this as a fact of life and moves on, faithfully doing and being what God has called him to do and be, no matter what the significant others in his life choose to do and be.
Our final reward isn't the privilege of sitting back and saying, "Wasn't I a good father?" Granted, we'll have some joys that come from the hoped-for friendship with our children. But the final reward will be when the real model father, God himself, looks us in the eye and says, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into your eternal rest."
Remember that the model is God. You and I are not God. We are not perfect. The key is that I am willing to say, "I am sorry," when I am wrong. The key is that I am willing to stand by the children God has given to me when they are wrong.
[Editor's Note: This is excerpted from a sermon delivered by the author on Father's Day.]
by Ryan Duncan, TheFish.com editor
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Ė Matthew 19:14
When I was a little kid, I made an amazing discovery. I realized that if I found something I liked and asked the right person ďCan I have this?Ē there was chance they would give it to me. This may not seem all that extraordinary to you, but trust me, to a child this was a goldmine. You see, I didnít just ask for candy at the grocery store or stuff on TV commercials, I asked for everything. I asked other kids if I could have their toys, I asked the neighbors if I could have their dog, I think I even asked one family if I could have their house. Iím afraid I embarrassed my parents to no end, and by the time my father sat me down and explained that asking someone for all their belongings was rude and most people had stopped inviting our family over for dinner.
Kids can be a real hassle, and when you think about it, you canít really blame the disciples for their actions in Mark 10. Take a look at the following passage,
Hereís the thing about children. Children are messy, children are selfish, children are ignorant, and children are incredibly self-destructive. Donít believe me? A monkey knows better than to stick a butter knife into an exposed wall socket, but let a child have its way and they will do it twice! Despite all this however, you really canít help but admire the oblivious, single-minded nature of a child.
If anything, Christians should try learning from their example. Too often we stop ourselves for encountering God because we are afraid we donít fit the ďChristianĒ criteria. Well, Iíve got news for you; we will always be children in Godís eyes: messy, crazy, self-destructive children. But as long as we make him the single focus of our hearts, He doesnít care. So take a lesson from these little ones, pursue God recklessly and donít pay attention to what others think, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.
Source: Crosswalk.com - The Devotional
by Preston Maring, MD, Kaiser Permanente Medical Group
One mango, peeled and diced ( They are very slippery so be careful)
Add everything to a mixing bowl and mash until chunky smooth. I added the avocados last so they wouldnít turn brown. The mango adds a wonderful sweetness which sets this apart from your usual guacamole. This is good with homemade baked pita chips.
Yield: About three cups
Nutrition Information Per Serving
Fat: 7 gm
Fiber: 4 gm
Protein: 1 gm
Source: Kaiser Permanente Newsletter
by Rev. Fr. John-Brian Paprock, Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Chapel, Madison, WI
During the fast of the apostles, we contemplate their sacrifice for the church. At Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Chapel in Madison, Wisconsin, eight sermons on Christian Spirituality were given by Fr. John-Brian Paprock with the theme of "Meaningful Sacrifice" in order to clarify and teach the deeper meaning of Christian sacrifice in real life as well as in metaphor and story.
These eight teaching sermons are based on an excerpt from Second Century Christian theologian, Origen. The excerpt is from his "Homilies on Leviticus" that has been entitled: "Seven Sacrifices - Seven Remissions."
In total, almost four hours of important teaching in developing Christian Spirituality in this course.
This course is free. Holy Transfiguration Mission offers this as part of their Orthodox Christian ministry on the internet.
How to Access the Course
Just go to the page below follow the links to each session.
- Part 1: Introduction to Meaningful Sacrifice: Baptism and Martyrdom
Dr. Eugene Brice tells a delightful but disturbing story about a minister who returned to visit a church he had once served. He ran into Bill, who had been an elder and leader in the church, but who wasn't around anymore. The pastor asked, "Bill, what happened? You used to be there every time the doors opened."
"Well, Pastor," said Bill, "a difference of opinion arose in the church. Some of us couldn't accept the final decision and we established a church of our own."
"Is that where you worship now?" asked the pastor.
"No," answered Bill, "we found that there, too, the people were not faithful and a small group of us began meeting in a rented hall at night."
"Has that proven satisfactory?" asked the minister.
"No, I can't say that it has," Bill responded. "Satan was active even in that fellowship, so my wife and I withdrew and began to worship on Sunday at home by ourselves."
"Then at last you have found inner peace?" asked the pastor.
"No, I'm afraid we haven't," said Bill. "Even my wife began to develop ideas I was not comfortable with, so now she worships in the northeast corner of the living room, and I am in the southwest."
Source: King Duncan, quoting Eugene Brice, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com
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